KATOWICE - STALINOGRÓD - KATOWICE (1953-1956)
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An inseparable element of the Stalinist system was the transference of the cult of Joseph Stalin, binding in the USSR. The cult in question was deprived of all sources of inner and social acceptance, and thus remained superficial and alien. The authorities maintained it despite Stalin's death in March 1953. One of the symptoms of their policy was renaming Katowice as Stalinogród (similar changes of names of towns and even mountain peaks took place in other countries of the 'people's democracy'). The decision to grant Katowice the new name was made on 7 March 1953 in Warsaw, at a session of the Secretariat of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP). According to Edward Gierek, who at the time was the secretary of the Voivodeship Committee of the PUWP in Katowice, on the day in question Jakub Berman issued suitable instructions by telephone to Józef Olszewski, the first secretary of the Voivodeship Committee in Katowice. Official propaganda announced that the idea came into being in Upper Silesia. The reason for this subterfuge lay in the fact that the Party leaders in Warsaw, taken by surprise by Stalin's death, simply carried out orders from Moscow, and decided to change the name of a large Polish town. Katowice was the capital of the greatest industrial region and a working class centre. After all, it was the miners and the steel workers who were supposed to have been the 'base' and 'support' of the new socialist Poland. Perhaps this was the decisive factor? The Council of State issued a decree confirming the changed name of the town and the voivodeship. The Silesian writer, Gustaw Morcinek, a representative of the Democratic Party, was forced to file a suitable motion. In Upper Silesia changing names of towns, streets and workplaces were by no means a novelty. In Katowice itself many of the residents remembered that before the First World War the town was known as Kattowitz, in the interwar period it became Katowice, and then at the time of World War II it was once again given the name of Kattowitz. The tide of transformations in the wake of the Twentieth Congress of the PUWP encouraged the population of Upper Silesia to increasingly loudly demand the restoration of the town's former name. In this situation, on 21 October 1956 a joint session held by the presidiums of the Voivodeship and Municipal National Council presented a resolution addressed to the Council of Ministers, in an effort to 'fulfi' social expectations, postulating a return to 'Katowice' and 'the voivodeship of Katowice'. In the autumn of 1956, without waiting for the deferred decision of the central authorities, the local administration and the residents began publicly using the name of Katowice.
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